Understanding legalese

The definition of a class action is:

Legal action involving a large group or class of people. Without having every member of the class join the action, a few individuals initiate a court case becoming representatives of the group.


What does that mean?

A class action is a lawsuit that represents a group of people who all fit the same definition of a “class member” as defined in the lawsuit. In class action cases, one or a few “class representatives” are chosen to represent the entire group. The representatives will serve as examples of the issue that is affecting all class members. Only the class representative’s names appear in the lawsuit and only the class representatives will be required to appear in court.

If a judge grants class certification and settlement or judgment is entered, anyone who meets the definition of a “class member” will receive notice of their potential claim. This notice usually goes out in the form of a postcard, letter, or even an email depending on the case. It is up the person receiving the notice to choose whether to remain a class member or opt out of the case.